Pathologist: Injuries on Ivana’s body consistent with fall

Pathologist Dr Zunaizah Hilmi of Hospital Kuala Lumpur leaving the Coroner’s Court earlier today. She says Ivana Smit’s fall had bruised her internal organs.

KUALA LUMPUR: A pathologist today told the inquest into Dutch model Ivana Smit’s death last year that she had multiple bruises caused by blunt-force trauma from falling.

Dr Zunaizah Hilmi, 30, who conducted Smit’s post-mortem the day after she died, told the Coroner’s Court here that there were internal and external bruises as well as a damaged artery.

“I found multiple abrasion injuries on the back of the deceased’s neck and shoulder, the middle and left parts of the hips, the right leg, both wrists, and the back of her left hand.

“Some of these were linear abrasions and fractures. But these are generally caused by blunt-force head trauma, and if the victim had fallen from a great height,” she said when questioned by deputy public prosecutor N Joy Jothi.

Zunaizah said when she conducted her internal examination of Smit’s organs and body parts in the 7-hour autopsy, she noticed that the descending thoracic aorta in the chest cavity had “nearly torn”.

Nonetheless, she said the heart was still able to pump blood and keep Smit alive, as she found the artery in question was red in colour, and not frozen, indicative the proteins in the blood were still actively reacting.

This was not the cause of her death, Zunaizah confirmed.

“Yes, she was still alive although the artery had been torn,” she said.

It was possible complications could have arisen because of the torn artery and lead to an immediate death within a few minutes, “but it would not have been an instantaneous death”.

Today is the 8th day of the inquest into Smit’s death on Dec 7 last year.

Smit’s nude body was found sprawled on a sixth floor balcony at CapSquare Residences, off Jalan Dang Wangi, in Kuala Lumpur.

She was believed to have fallen from a 20th floor condo belonging to an American-Kazakh couple she had befriended at the time, just after 1pm that afternoon.

Police originally classified the case as sudden death, but it was re-opened this year after Smit’s family claimed there were elements of foul play and a cover-up.

The inquest is to determine how Smit had died and whether there is enough evidence to eventually take the case to trial.

Zunaizah is the 15th witness to testify.

In her 3-hour testimony this morning, Zunaizah said she found that Smit’s left lung, left hip, and the soft tissues surrounding her left kidney had been heavily bruised and injured because of the fall.

She added that Smit’s spinal cord, the 10th and 11th thoracic vertebrae of the ribcage, the mesentery structures of the small intestine, as well as her skull, had been affected because of this.

Zunaizah also said she found a few instances of minimal bleeding in Smit’s body, but nothing severe.

There was also bleeding in the brain.

“There was minimal subdural haemorrhage in the lobus of her left brain, and in the left cerebral hemisphere of the whole brain – although there were no injuries to the brain itself.

“Although there was a strong impact on her head (when she fell) this bleeding in her brain did not cause the deceased’s death, nor did it injure the brain,” she said.

Zunaizah has yet to state what the cause of death is, although she has concluded that the time of death was around 24 to 36 hours before she started the post-mortem on Dec 8 at the Hospital Kuala Lumpur morgue.

No injuries were observed in the trachea, heart, stomach, spleen or liver, she testified, but said both of Smit’s kidneys and her liver were pale in colour and pink instead of bright red, a possible sign of blood loss.

However, she said the torn aorta could only be partly blamed for this as there were other factors to consider such as if there was any internal bleeding from the organs.

She said she could not determine how much blood was lost as well.

Earlier, Zunaizah said she found foreign objects such as soil and dirt particles on Smit’s body, as well as a possible ink stain on Smit’s fingers from using a stamp-pad for making fingerprints.

When questioned by Jothi why she did not mention this in her testimony so far, Zunaizah said she had dictated it during her autopsy, but didn’t include its possible contamination in her post-mortem report.

The inquest continues later this afternoon with Zunaizah taking the stand once more.

Although the inquest was scheduled to end today, the court has set three extra days beginning next Monday for it to continue.